design thinking initiatives for a better urban life
As part of the “Networked Urbanism” studio, I developed a relationship with a community in Dorchester that would drive my thesis research and a locally-initiated creative project after graduation. Dorchester is a large, historic, and often stigmatized neighborhood in Boston that exhibits diverse elements of urban living. In addition to generations of Irish- and Polish-Americans, it is home to large Vietnamese, Cape Verdean and Central- and African-American populations. Visually, it lacks the New England orderliness prevalent in Boston, and feels more like a chaotic, contemporary global city. My project sought to connect the diverse residents of this neighborhood with ongoing city planning efforts, and amplify their sense of agency over their physical surroundings.
The implications of a $15-million city planning initiative to improve infrastructure along Dorchester’s main corridor, Dorchester Ave., piqued my interest. Was it paving the way for a developer’s dream of gentrification, or could it genuinely improve the quality of life for residents in the contested neighborhoods traversed by the avenue? (more…)